'Working against our values:' Duterte orders 'end' of e-sabong operations

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 03 2022 09:56 AM | Updated as of May 03 2022 05:39 PM

PAGCOR says to implement order 'immediately'

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MANILA (2nd UPDATE)— President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he would order the immediate "end" of e-sabong due to its negative social impact on Filipinos. 

This came following a survey by the interior department, which Duterte said found that the gambling platform "is working against our values", despite the billions of pesos in revenue that government collects from online sabong in a year.

"Validated 'yung naririnig ko... May naririnig na ako loud and very clear to me -- it is working against our values. 'Yung impact sa pamilya at sa tao, ang labas, hindi na natutulog yung mga sabungero 24 hours," he said in his taped address aired on Tuesday. 

(What I heard was validated. I heard, this is loud and very clear to me, it is working against our values. In impacts the family and people, some sabungeros do not sleep for 24 hours.) 

"The recommendation of [Interior] Secretary [Eduardo] Año is do away with e-sabong. He cited the validation report coming from all sources. It's his recommendation and I agree with it. It is good. So e-sabong will end by tonight. Bukas, lalabas ito bukas," he added. 

(It will come out tomorrow.) 

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chairman Andrea Domingo said no revenue will be collected from the gambling platform "starting today" as they would implement the President's order immediately.

"The Executive Secretary will issue a formal memorandum to this effect and we will serve the appropriate notice to the PAGCOR regulated esabong operators," Domingo said in a statement.

"We will also inform the COA Auditor officially that starting today, there will no longer be revenues collected from esabong operations," she added.

The President in earlier speeches threatened to kill online sabong franchises if authorities proved that it caused social problems, including gambling addiction and the disappearances cockfighting enthusiasts.

At least 30 sabungeros have gone missing. Duterte had blamed "evil men" for their disappearance.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday said it has charged 8 cops for their alleged involvement in e-sabong.

Police will coordinate with PAGCOR to close e-sabong betting stations and prevent "chaos", said PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo. 

"We'll just wait for the official communication kung paano ba natin isasagawa yung pag-i-inspect at pagmo-monitor kung mayroon pa pong mga existing e-sabong operations," she said in public briefing. 

(We'll just wait for the official communication on how we will inspect and monitor existing e-sabong operations.) 

DILG: REGULATIONS NEEDED

Of 8,463 people polled last April by the interior department, it said 62 percent of respondents wanted e-sabong to stop due to "addiction to gambling, bankruptcy of players, indebtedness, cost to family, neglect of work and studies, and crime." 

"Government policies must take heed of the pulse of the people. This decision [to stop e-sabong] is rooted in a survey reflecting the sentiment of the people. Hindi ito bara-bara na desisyon (this was not a rushed decision)," Año said in a statement. 

He said his agency recommended suspending e-sabong "until a better set of framework and regulations are formulated, in such a way that it will not significantly harm any of the stakeholders and and lead to the moral decay of society." 

Año said traditional physical sabong will continue to operate, with compliance to health standards. 
 
'ABOUT TIME'

The Senate earlier passed a resolution urging the suspension of e-sabong. 

Sen. Grace Poe said lives and family ties were at stake as e-sabong addictions continued to grow.

"Sumasang-ayon tayo sa pagpapatigil ng e-sabong habang patuloy ang mga pag-aaral ng masamang epekto na dulot nito," she said. 
 
(We agree with the suspension of e-sabong while studies on its bad effects continue.)

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said of Duterte's decision, "It's about time. Napakinggan din ang [resolution] ng Senado." 

(The resolution of the Senate was heard.) 

"The 24 senators were never wrong in supporting the Senate resolution urging PAGCOR to stop the operations of esabong. I have no further recommendations to the President," added Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, a former police chief. 

Sen. Koko Pimentel said authorities should finish their probe and findings on the disappearance of sabungeros should be released immediately. 

"Dapat pag-usapan nang mabuti, kung ano ba talaga ang mga epekto ng legalization ng mga iba’t ibang uri ng sugal tulad ng e-sabong. Wag madaliin. Mas mabuti siguro ipadesisyon na ito sa bagong papasok ng Kongreso," he added. 

(This should be discussed thoroughly, what is the effect of the legalization of various forms of gambling like e-sabong. Do not rush this. Perhaps it will be better for the incoming Congress to decide.) 

Duterte previously rejected calls to end e-sabong operations, citing at least P300 million in government revenue generated monthly.

The PAGCOR said it earned P3.7 billion from e-sabong from April to December 2021, and at least P1.4 billion in the first 3 months of this year. 

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Video from PTV